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Banking’s New Mantra: Must Play Well With Others

Mobile capabilities in banking aren't just opening up new services to customers. They are also completely redefining traditional rivalries and partnerships. Because consumers demand easy and convenient transactions on any device from any location, banks have to form new alliances with a whole different breed of partner, ranging from payment processors, financial institutions, network operators and retailers. 

Regardless of how far along you are on your bank's mobile integration, the business will not bear much resemblance to your grandfather's bank with red velvet ropes, orderly queues and a narrowly defined set of industry competitors. In fact, who you view as a potential rival or a partner today depends largely on your perspective.

According to a 2014 consumer and executive survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned by SAP, at a global level, fifty per cent of retail bank executives see virtual banks, or banks that do not have physical branches as rivals, while three in ten view them as potential partners. Likewise, bankers are almost evenly divided on the threat from digital payments companies, such as PayPal, and firms that advise on personal financial management. We see the same division at the global level for personal financial advisors.

In EMEA, however, sixty five per cent of bankers view virtual banks as significant rivals, sixty one per cent worry about payments services, and forty eight per cent see retailers as future competitors. Sixty eight per cent view social-media companies as potential partners for their bank.

Regardless of your perspective, one thing is clear. Banks must ally themselves with other members of the mobile and retail ecosystem if they are to compete effectively in the brave new world. And it's also clear that these partnerships must be much more than marketing initiatives or mere lip service. They must provide integrated, seamless customer and data experiences to have any meaningful business impact. Mobile has brought with it sweeping changes and a brand new mantra for modern banking: "Must play well with others." 

But it's not just customer services that are being shaped by mobile. Banking employees are able to harness the productivity benefits to operate smarter, drive new business and compete more effectively in the mobile empowered marketplace. The majority of bankers believe that mobile services can help employees reduce risk, identify opportunities and improve service. Sixty nine per cent think mobile for employees will help to accelerate approvals and processing, and half of banking executives see their employees going to visit customers rather than the other way around – a trend already in full swing in emerging markets where banks are enlisting local agents armed with tablets to support rural customers.

Most banks are focusing their efforts on the mobile capabilities for customers in the first instance. The typical priority audiences are customers first, employees second, the front office third, and the back office last. No matter where you are in terms of your own priorities and progress, mobile capabilities offer a chance for banks to deliver convenience, differentiation, upselling opportunities, as well as a gateway to deeper customer relationships through personalisation. This can only be achieved through partnerships that deliver a seamlessly integrated experience between you and your new ecosystem partners. Who those new partners (and rivals) are is up to you.

Laurence Leyden is Head of Financial Services Industries, SAP EMEA 

Comments: (5)

Abhishek Chatterjee
Abhishek Chatterjee - Gartner Inc. - London 18 March, 2015, 11:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Laurence, I agree. Banks must go beyond its core product and services, and create or participate in large ecosystem to tap revenues upstream and attract potential customers. that requires robust business, operation, IT (Mobile, API, Architecture roadmap planning).

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 18 March, 2015, 12:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It's clear that it's upto each bank to view who it considers as its rival. In the interest of more clarity re. partnership, would the recent spate of partnerships between banks and Apple for accepting Apple Pay count as successful chanting of your "play well with others" mantra?

Laurence Leyden
Laurence Leyden - SAP - Feltham 19 March, 2015, 17:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks Ketharaman.

I agree this is going to be a difficult cultural change for some organisations but ultimately banks are there to service customers and if customers want to use Apple Pay i believe they will not be able to fight against it. I believe great customer service will always beat handcuffs!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 March, 2015, 08:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I would totally back this idea too. The culture change will be quite revolutionary as banks tend to be hunters all chasing the same kills out there. However, national organisations such as the British Bankers Association rely on co-operation between banks so they can do it. I suppose if the stakes are high enough the self-preservation instinct will kick in. Hunters know when to to stalk and when to kill. The other way to look at the whole scenario is as a great opportunity to shine and outsmart rather than run scared or revert to ostrich mode.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 20 March, 2015, 17:07Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@LaurenceL: TY for your reply. When Apple Pay had put Banks Squarely At The Center Of Mobile Payments, I'd thought the move heralded the beginnings of the required cultural change - from both Apple and banks. However, when I'm seeing each side trying to blame the other in the recent Apple Pay Fraud, I'm beginning to wonder if I was over optimistic. To play a little loose with Bill Gates's famous quote, we overestimate the extent of cultural change in, hmmm, 10 or should it be 100 years and underestimate the extent of cultural change in, hmmm, 100 years or should it be 1000 years?